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Connect the World
Soon: Moment of Silence to Mark One Year Since Explosion; Rights Group, Victim's Families Renew calls for Justice; EU Agrees on Legal Framework for Possible Sanctions; How Much Blame Should be given to Lebanon's Leaders; Emmanuel Macron: France Sending Aid, COVID-19 Vaccines to Lebanon; The Struggle of Lebanon's People, One Year on. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired August 04, 2021 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BECKY ANDERSON, CNNI HOST: We are just getting some pictures into CNN of what is a large explosion.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It felt like an earthquake followed by a huge blast that blew out the windows in this what
was once our studio
ANDERSON: Why was that ammonium nitrate stored at the port? How long was it there who knew about it and its risk and who turned a blind eye to
government after governments in Lebanon fails to do its most fundamental job and look after its people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Welcome to a special edition of "Connect the World", a year on and those burning questions still remain unanswered. And for the loved ones
of those killed intense anger over a failure to bring to justice those responsible for what is one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in
This hour we are dedicating our show to Lebanon and its people. These are live pictures from Beirut where we expect a moment of silence at 6:08 pm
local time to mark the moment of the blast leading up to that thousands of people have been marching towards the port, calling for justice.
The blast killed more than 200 people injured thousands more and left hundreds of thousands homeless. It tore through Beirut in a physical sense,
leveling entire neighborhoods, destroying homes and businesses.
But it also dealt a spiritual blow to a people and the country already struggling through years of government corruption and downright
incompetence that's left Lebanon in economic and political shambles and happening of course just months into a global pandemic.
Ahead in this hour, that moment of silence marking the exact time of the explosion. We'll hear stories from blast survivors.
And we'll look at what the international community is doing and not doing to help a view from inside a Lebanese hospital and a politician's
perspective all coming up for you on this special edition of "Connect the World".
Well, Ben Wedeman who was there for the explosion and its aftermath watching this all unfolds for us not far from the blast site. And Ben, if
you will walk us through where you are and what is happening today and what we should be expecting?
WEDEMAN: But we're just a couple 100 meters from the site, where the blast took place h number 12, which was the warehouse where the ammonium nitrate
and so many other toxic and flammable materials were kept for years and nobody did a thing about it.
Now we are on one of the main roads that go by the port. There are thousands of people assembled on this road on this overpass above us other
parts of Beirut as well. I think this is fair to say this is the largest assembly of people in Beirut since the uprising of October 2019.
And I think what explains this outpouring is just this deep frustration and anger of the people of this country, the people in particular of this city
who have suffered through an economic and financial collapse, the likes of which the World Bank says oh, here it looks like we have an over flight by
the Lebanese Air Force, the very small Lebanese Air Force.
But as I was saying, the worst financial and economic crisis the world has seen perhaps since 1850 and therefore and on top of that collapse you have
the blast, which was just a mind blowing thing to live through in terms of just the sheer violence of the event.
But also, as we've learned over the last year, the sheer incompetence in difference, neglect of government that knew that there were dangerous
potentially highly dangerous chemicals stored in this warehouse over here. And nonetheless, they allowed it to happen.
WEDEMAN: And here we have more aircraft flying over the site with the colors of the Lebanese flag. There is a certain amount of bitterness that
the government is actually doing something to observe this event because many people feel that the government was criminally negligent in allowing
this catastrophe to happen.
And over the last year has done little to bring those who are responsible to account Becky.
ANDERSON: Ben, on August 4 last year and Investigative Committee was appointed to look into the blast and a promise made that it would submit
its findings in five days, 365 days later and that investigation is stalled seemingly going nowhere.
No justice for the Lebanese people is anyone held accountable. Lebanon's nightmare of course didn't start a year ago. The economic collapse began in
2019 when the currency began to slide. And that slide ended in free for, just describe as we wait this moment of silence for us, just describe life
for the Lebanese people today.
WEDEMAN: Life for the Lebanese people, if you compare it to what it was two years ago, is completely different. For instance, the Lebanese currency,
the leader has lost 95 percent of its value in the last two years, the minimum wage monthly wage used to be $450.
Now it's worth about $30. Beirut is now experiencing power cuts of up to 22 hours a day. And the diesel powered generators that used to make up the
difference. Those are starting to break down because they're not used to running around the clock.
And there's a shortage of diesel fuel. As a result of the electricity crisis, we're seeing an increasingly increasing number of food poisonings
because people can't refrigerate food. They're shortages of medicine, shortages of petrol; many people increasingly do not have enough money to
buy the food to survive.
Studies have found that children increasingly are being put to work to try to help families make ends meet. So if you put the entirety of what this
country has gone through in the last two years, it is breathtaking in its scope. And this explains why there is just so much anger, a deep visceral
anger and resentment.
ANDERSON: Right, Ben. I am going to stop you there, because this moment of silence is now beginning and I just want our viewers to listen in.
ANDERSON: Well, the blast happened in mere seconds. The impact for survivors will last a lifetime. Ben Wedeman is still with me that a moment
of silence marking this one year anniversary. Ben and this is all about the people of Lebanon, isn't it?
WEDEMAN: Yes, it's about the people, the people who have long suffered under this pseudo democratic system, which has elections which are judged
democratic. But the results time and time again are the reelection of a group of individuals who clearly don't care about the welfare of the
But now, after this blast, people are just asking one thing, one last thing of this political system, they are looking for accountability.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN (voice over): Pamela Zeinoun was on the phone with her mother. At eight minutes past six in the evening, Beirut's nightmare began. Pamela in
the ward for premature babies didn't hesitate.
PAMELA ZEINOUN, NEONATAL INTENSIVE CARE UNIT NURSE: I was much focused to save the babies.
WEDEMAN (voice over): With three babies in her arms, she walked for an hour and a half to find an incubator. Well, Pamela was walking the injured flock
to her severely damaged hospital, the San George, where the explosion had killed four nurses. On that awful evening, more than 6000 people were
wounded. More than 200 killed.
A city that over the decades has been through wars, car bombs and terrorism had never seen anything on this scale. A year later and most of the rubble
has been cleared. Some of the damage has been repaired. Yet deep scars remain.
ZEINOUN: I know a lot of my colleagues, they are still on medications. They are still having a very hard time sleeping or eating or they still are
remembering what happened. So it's really tough.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Paul and Tracy Naggear lost their three year old daughter Alexandra in the blast. Like many here they blamed the disaster on
Lebanon's political elite.
TRACY NAGGEAR, DAUGHTER KILLED IN PORT EXPLOSION: Last year after the blast we decided to leave, which is a normal decision. You know, they killed our
daughter. They almost killed us, they destroyed our house.
WEDEMAN (voice over): They're still here. Paul was recently elected to the order of engineers and has become a vocal advocate for change and
accountability. Accountability that until now remains elusive - lost his 32 year old son George, who was in the port when the blast happened.
He regularly joins vigils with other relatives of the dead, demanding justice. Every day his mother cries and cries, Elias tells me. She asks why
George doesn't come over for coffee. Why doesn't he come over for the weekend?
The port blast is just one catastrophe visited upon Lebanon, which in the last two years is seen unrest, political paralysis, financial and economic
collapse, the COVID pandemic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of this when the explosion happened was full of rubble.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Hani and Kiana have come back to their old flat overlooking the port.
KIANA SAIDAH, PORT EXPLOSION SURVIVOR: Hani, most of his injuries were on his right side. And he crouched here like this. So that's why you can still
see all of his blood.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Both were wounded by flying glass scarred and traumatized. Hani and Kiana are leaving Lebanon.
SAIDAH: If we would see an immediate future then we wouldn't be.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Lebanon's future is dark, the jarring images of a year ago seared into the memories of everyone who lived through it, the
nightmare isn't' over.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: And you are now looking at live pictures from Beirut. People on the streets have just marked the moment of silence at 6:08 local time to
reflect the exact time a year ago when that blast happened. It happened in mere seconds. The impact for survivors will last a lifetime.
Today Lebanese is marking the one year anniversary of the port explosion with equal parts of sadness and anger sadness for the more than 200 people
killed in the blast and thousands more injured anger over a lack of justice and the government's failure to hold anyone responsible for this tragedy.
We are going to take a very short break back after this.
ANDERSON: Remember this, this is the moment French President Emmanuel Macron arrived on the scene in Beirut last year, the knight in shining
armor if you will. He wanted to save Lebanon from itself.
Well since the port blasts that killed more than 200 people. Lebanese officials from all factions have held by our tally at least 39 meetings
with world leaders. There have been lots of "frank and open discussions" to use diplomatic language but nothing tangible on the ground.
The latest of these international initiatives is happening right now. France's president pledging nearly $118 million dollars to help support
Lebanon. This donation was pledged as France leads an international conference via video link today.
The U.S. too has pledged $100 million for Lebanon. The Egyptian President, the King of Jordan also expected to speak prime ministers from Canada,
Iraq, and Greece.
Also their representatives from a dozen other European countries as well as Qatar and Saudi Arabia are attending. As are the IMF and the W.H.O, for his
part, the Lebanese president had this to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHEL AOUN, LEBANESE PRESIDENT: There is no doubt that Lebanon needs every assistance and support from the international community after the
determining needs and priorities notably, madly need humanitarian, social and health assistance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, the problems Lebanon faces today are not isolated, nor are they limited to its borders our International Diplomatic Editor Nic
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Emmanuel Macron wasted no time wading into Beirut's chaos. Two days off the last
summer's massive port explosion, the French President issued a demark for Lebanon's politicians, get your act together and govern.
EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I am here today; I am going to offer them a new political pack this afternoon. And I will come back by September
1 if they have not obtained it.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Beirut reach of despair, years of no government a collapsing economy, the streets are - washed in anger, dismay and now
destruction. Macrons word sounded like salvation. Instead, they're proving symptomatic of Lebanon's enduring problem deep rooted outside interference.
During Lebanon's civil war in the 1970s and 80s, it became an ungodly cauldron of proxy power plays. An alphabet soup of Sunni, Shia, Christian,
Druze and Palestinian fighters with puppet masters in Baghdad, Damascus Tripoli, Tel Aviv, Tehran and Beijing, all simmering in Soviet American
Cold War rivalries.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Turn Beirut, once known as the Paris of the Middle East into a wasteland of shelled out shut up streets. Back then, in 1983,
241 U.S. Marines and personnel and about 58 French soldiers were killed by two Hezbollah suicide bombing attacks. The U.S. blamed Iran, which denied
any involvement. Decades later, those and many other civil war tensions remain in play.
MIKE POMPEO, THEN U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Frankly, Lebanon and Lebanese people faced with choice, bravely move forward as an independent and proud
nation or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Iran's proxy the sheer political Military powerhouse has - in U.S. crosshairs for rocketing neighboring Israel.
Hezbollah, punching back blaming Pompeo's boss, President Donald Trump for sanctioning Iran and damaging Lebanon for looking out for America's
interests and not Lebanon's.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The sanctions and terror lists are a form of warfare against the resistance and we must deal with them as such.
ROBERTSON (voice over): At the root of Lebanon's proxy problem, its confessional politics, a Christian president, a Sunni Prime Minister, and a
cheer speaker of Parliament, a tangled triumvirate foisted on it and part by its then colonial rule of France during the 1920s through World War II.
Today, Lebanon's long suffering population is at their wit's end caught in a vortex where others are wind makers. When Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince
Mohammed bin Salman thought Iran's proxy Hezbollah was gaining strength, he throttled back billions of dollars in aid to Lebanon, and not long after
hustled his proxy.
Lebanon's PM Saad Hariri to Riyadh, where days later Hariri quit only to reinstate himself when he eventually returned to Lebanon the result of
these decades of stirring the cross currents of Lebanon's into religious rivalries is entirely predictable.
No functioning government the economy decimated food prices driven up, electricity supplies drying up, passions reigniting and little surprise.
Macrons post bomb blast deadline for reform missed Europe's patience is running out in part out of fear refugees from Lebanon could flood it
JOSEP BORRELL, EU FOREIGN POLICY CHIEF: Let me be clear, we have the resources and the willingness to help more. But in order to help more, we
need the process of reforms.
ROBERTSON (voice over): And exhaust operation. The EU's Foreign Policy Chief is planning proposals sanctioning Lebanese leaders to force them to
work together. Days later, billionaire Najib Mikati nominated as the third PM Designate to try to build a government since the port blast last year,
the others including Hariri failed.
Mikati has led to previous Lebanese governments. This time, it will be harder, not least because Lebanon's confessional millstone has dragged the
country deeper into crisis, but because old puppet masters refuse to untie their strings and free their proxies to work in Lebanon's best interests.
Nic Robertson, CNN, London.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: As we watch images of mass prayers live in Beirut, the Lebanese people mark one year anniversary of the Beirut port blast. Lebanon's
financial crisis just keeps getting worse, the same political class and sectarian leadership responsible for this nightmare are still in place.
They are refusing to cede power or carry out reforms demanded by the Lebanese people and by the international community. EU leaders are worried
and that now agreed on a legal framework for potential sanctions.
The framework includes a ban on EU travel assets of those targeted would be frozen and people and entities in the EU would be forbidden from making
funds available to those targeted by the sanctions.
Well Lebanon's newly appointed Prime Minister Designate, however, claims there are international and American guarantees that the country will not
collapse. Well, I spoke to the EU Ambassador to Lebanon, Ralph Tarraf and I started by asking if he's privy to those guarantees. This is what he told
RALPH TARRAF, EU AMBASSADOR TO LEBANON: We certainly do not want to see Lebanon collapse; we want to see Lebanon, stabilized Lebanon, making its
way out of the economic crisis. And Lebanon being able to deliver services, the Lebanese state able to deliver services to its citizens.
It's not just the economy, which is unraveling. It's also the state as security - as a service provider, which is not up to task anymore.
Electricity, water, wastewater treatment, education, health care, all these sectors are really ailing and under a huge pressure. And nobody has an
interest to see the Lebanese States collapsing.
ANDERSON: But it is collapsing, Sir.
TARRAF: Well, I would call it an implosion and not a collapse yet, but we need to make sure that it doesn't collapse.
ANDERSON: Sir, you are guaranteeing, are you? Admitting that there are guarantees to the Prime Minister, the new prime minister designate that the
international community and the Europeans will not allow Lebanon to --?
TARRAF: Yes, we are certainly working in the spirit of supporting Lebanon, yes.
ANDERSON: Which means what, Sir?
TARRAF: Which means that there need to be a contribution by the Lebanese decision makers as well, it is not us who are out there to rescue Lebanon,
it is a common endeavor at best.
ANDERSON: Hey, my full conversation with Ralph Tarraf, the European Union's Ambassador to Lebanon tomorrow right here on CNN. Anguish anger, but few
answers one year on people in Beirut are still asking, where is the accountability?
I'll put that question to Lebanon's Ambassador to the UK when this special edition of "Connect the World" continues.
ANDERSON: Welcome back to this special edition of "Connect the World". One year on the pain from the Beirut explosion exacerbated by the sense that
those responsible have not been held to account.
Human Rights Watch says government officials likely knew about the dangers of chemicals at the port and did nothing CNN's Ben Wedeman has more on the
investigation into the Beirut Port explosion or lack thereof, some images in his report may be difficult to watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WEDEMAN (voice over): 5:54 pm Tuesday, the 4th of August 2020. A fire rages in Beirut Port's hangar number 12, 14 minutes later, this. One of the
largest non-nuclear explosions in history rips through the heart of the Lebanese Capital, killing more than 200 people wounded more than 6000
rendering at least 300,000 people homeless.
The official investigation into the blast has stalled. All the questions about how and why this bloodbath happened remain unanswered. What is clear,
however, is that soon after a Moldovan flag ship docked in Beirut Port in 2013, with 2750 tons of highly volatile ammonium nitrate, Lebanese
officials didn't act on all the warnings that had posed a mortal threat to the city. A flurry of notes passed around the government highlighting the
danger, but no one did a thing.
WEDEMAN (on camera): The most generous explanation for the cause of the Beirut Port blast is criminal negligence. That what happened here was the
result of years if not decades of corruption, mismanagement, and incompetence. The Beirut Port blast was not a freak accident.
Beirut port has long been described as Alibaba's cave, a dark den of official corruption where Lebanon's political factions share in the spoils.
NIZAR SAGHIEH, DIRECTOR, LEGAL AGENDA: --negligence, when everybody was aware and why nobody acted? What does that mean? That means that there is a
total - of the public interest of the public danger.
WEDEMAN (voice over): --husband Hamad was killed in the blast. And on this day she is joined the families of those killed at a protest demanding
accountability from Lebanon's leaders. For 30 years they destroyed us she says they made us beggars. They impoverished us. They humiliated us. They
murdered us. Investigative Journalists Riyadh Kobeissi has spent years reporting on skullduggery in the port.
RIYADH KOBEISSI, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: What happened in the first of all was it's not a random mistake. It's a system failure, system failure,
and those who compose the system, despite the fact the contradiction between them; they are refusing to hold responsibility for what happened.
The 4th of August is a direct result of this cohabitation between the mafia and the militia.
WEDEMAN (voice over): Lebanon's Caretaker Justice Minister declined our request for an interview, but provided a statement saying in part, I abide
by the principles of separation of power, judicial independence and secrecy of the investigation.
Yet Lebanon's track record for investigations is spotty. Over decades, a series of assassinations have rocked Lebanon, followed by investigations
and the culprits have almost always gotten away. But this atrocity was different. Tracy Naggear lost her three year old daughter Alexandra in the
NAGGEAR: The difference between the death of my child and the death of you know, the politicians that were kids from 2005 onwards is that Alexandra is
a kid. She didn't ask anything from anyone. She's a citizen. She was living in her house, she was happy.
WEDEMAN (voice over): And now Alexandra and more than 200 others are gone after such knowledge after such trauma. So many here are asking what
forgiveness? Ben Wedeman, CNN, Beirut.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Speculation but as you heard in Ben's report, not a lot of answers, we sought out what we do and do not know about the Beirut Port
explosion on your smartphone or on your computer @cnn.com a terrific piece of reporting there.
Well, throughout our coverage we've heard many people blame Lebanon's political leaders for not only the Beirut blast, but also the lack of any
real investigation into the tragedy. We invited many Lebanese officials to join us today on this show.
President Michel Aoun Prime Minister designate Najib Mikati, Former Prime Minister Hassan Diab and Saad Hariri, numerous Members of Parliament, none
of them decided to join us today.
ANDERSON: Well, in the wake of the blast a year ago, I did speak to the president's son in law Gebran Bassil about holding politicians accountable,
have a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Do you accept the fact that you and your colleagues must be held accountable?
GEBRAN BASSIL, LEBANESE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT: You know everybody who is in public responsibility should always be prepared for accountability. This is
a matter of fact, but not to be guilty of things that he is innocent from, or vice versa. So this is political. Neither I nor my party has any direct
involvement in what happened nor a direct responsibility and report or anything related to that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Well, one politician who did accept our invitation to appear on this show today, is the leader of Lebanon's Kataeb Party, Former Member of
Parliament Samy Gemayel, take a listen to part of our conversation earlier?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAMY GEMAYEL, PRESIDENT, LEBANESE KATAEB PARTY: Unfortunately, the investigation didn't go up to the president, it stopped on the prime
minister's level. I think that the president should be included in the investigations, the international community should help because this is not
an internal matter, when it - when it has to do with Iran with Syria. It's became a regional and international issue and not a domestic Lebanese
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: Joining me now is one man who represents Lebanon on the international stage, the Lebanese Ambassador to the UK, Rami Mortada. And
sir, thank you for joining us. Sir you are one of very few who was prepared to actually speak today.
So with respect you represent part of the Lebanese political elite as it were, you've been imbued in the political system yourself since the early
1990s. What is your sense of the complete lack of justice and accountability for the Beirut blast a year on as people in Lebanon and
around the world mark is tragedy, this tragic anniversary?
RAMI MORTADA, LEBANESE AMBASSADOR TO UK: Thank you Becky for inviting me. Let me say at the outset that the way I see it, unless and until there is
full accountability, and the whole truth is established behind this horrific blast, no healing process can start on the country this is the
principle that I think is established.
Now saying that there is lack of accountability or lack of investigation, I think this is a bit of an unfair statement. Obviously, the smarter enjoys
very high public intense public interest. And usually in such cases, there is lot of skepticism because this only added up to pre-existing gap of
trust and confidence between the large between large segments of population and the establishment. So this only added up to on to a pre-existing
ANDERSON: OK. I understand. Now the Lebanese people were promised, the result of this investigation in five days that people would be held to
account, including those in administrative positions and people in the political elite, if indeed, the judges in this investigation believed that
Should immunity be lifted for everyone so that everyone can be spoken to about this, including the president?
MORTADA: I think everything should be done in order to unveil - to unveil the whole truth behind this horrific accident. There is an investigation
going the problem today is that the prosecutor is bound by an obligation of non-disclosure.
So he's being put into question or the investigation is being put into question without him being able to communicate and to update the public on
the progress of that investigation. But the movement suggests that there is progress in the investigation and we are all looking forward for the
indictment, which and according to our criminal procedures will be public and then everybody will be able to scrutinize the seriousness--
ANDERSON: And you are agreeing that immunity should be lifted for everyone in this investigation, including current politicians, and the president?
MORTADA: I agree that everything should be done to unveil the whole truth. We owe it to our people. We owe to our country. We owe to our international
MORTADA: Lebanon is and should increasingly become a rule of law country. And this is an occasion, notwithstanding the tragedy behind it, but this is
an occasion this investigation could be an opportunity to bridge this confidence gap. There has been more in relation between large segments of
ANDERSON: It certainly hasn't been to date. It certainly hasn't been that occasion to date. Let me put this to you. The irony of a plea for help
today by the Lebanese President on a virtual call hosted by the French President will not be lost on many Lebanese.
The president the embodiment for many of everything that is bad about the Lebanese political system. Emmanuel Macron, calling out Lebanon's
politicians today at the Donor Conference saying and I quote, Lebanese leaders seem to be bet on a stalling strategy, which I regret and I think
is a historic and moral failure.
Do you accept that accusation of historic and moral failure by Lebanon's politicians and political elite, which, again, with respect sir, you are a
MORTADA: I understand the frustration of our people and of our international partners. And again, I think everything should be done to put
the country on the path towards recovery. It all starts by forming a reform focus government, which should be the utmost priority.
The President of the Republic and the Prime Minister Designate has pledged to do their utmost in order to come up with a will the government at the
earliest. This is how everything should start. And this is the only way that we could unlock all this potential, all this receptiveness for
assistance that have materialized today in the conference that has--
ANDERSON: Emmanuel Macron went on to say today, and I quote, there will be no blank check for the Lebanese political system, because it is they who
since the start of the crisis, but also before that are failing. Again do you accept that accusation and what does happen next sir?
MORTADA: It's a statement of fact that we have failed to form a government for a year now. So this is an irrefutable fact. Having said this, one
should be cautious that Lebanon is a very complex country and a very complex and difficult region.
This is not meant to justify, of course, there is a failure, of course, the explosion, but also before the explosion, the financial and monetary crisis
was only a culmination of years of flows and shortcomings. I think, again, this is an opportunity to once try to address these shortcomings through
the much overdue reform process that everybody is looking forward to, both in Lebanon and outside Lebanon.
ANDERSON: Right, OK.
MORTADA: That's where the priority should be.
ANDERSON: The leader of the non-sectarian national block, which is one of many groups of unofficial opposition calling for the neutrality of a new
Lebanese Government met Emmanuel Macron, a year ago when the French President was on the ground in Lebanon. And Pierre Issa had this to say,
have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PIERRE ISSA, CO-FOUNDER, ARCENCIET: Honestly, when Macron came, we were not really, really happy by the attitude and the position of the international
community in general and of France and Macron in particular, because we couldn't understand how come Mr. Macron doesn't trust the corrupted ruling
class to manage the financial and social financial assistance they sent to Lebanon, but they still trust them to form a government of what they call
of national unity and this type of government, led us where we are.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANDERSON: He has absolutely no confidence that those currently involved in politics in Lebanon today have any chance of forming a government of what
he believes would be a government of national unity, do you?
MORTADA: Well, fortunately, Lebanon is a democratic country with deep and deeply, deeply rooted democratic practice. This is should be - this should
be debated within the institutions within the parliament and the Constitution offers ways to form the government.
MORTADA: Of course, I do recognize the slowness. I do recognize the failure in forming a government. But this should not lead us to lose hope.
Obviously the country is in dire need for reform focused government that starts the stabilization process and subsequently the economic recovery
process. I think we shouldn't lose hope of having get at the earliest.
ANDERSON: Well, many, many people are indeed losing hope. But it's good to see that you appear to be cautiously optimistic, sir. Thank you very much
indeed for joining us today.
MORTADA: Thank you.
ANDERSON: Let's remember the French President the international community calling for sweeping, reforming, including constitutional reform before any
support will be provided for Lebanon, pointing the finger squarely at the political elite. We're taking a very short break back after this.
ANDERSON: This is how Beirut looks exactly a year ago chaos devastation. Hospitals Of course went into crisis mode. Remember they were already
trying to cope with the COVID pandemic. Well, across this hour long special. I've been sharing the aftermath of that horrifying blast.
But the physical destruction isn't the only nightmare still reverberating 12 months later. We've seen Lebanon start to lose its most precious
resources its doctors and its nurses, basic medical supplies, also extremely hard to come by.
My next guest is Chairman of a Hospital in Northern Lebanon. He's been tweeting one year of endless tears, blood pain, loss and hard
circumstances. We shall rise again. Richard Haykel runs Haykel Hospital in Tripoli, North Lebanon right now he is in Beirut, and he joins me live.
And you are there as so many others are marking this one year anniversary of that tragic, tragic event. Just explain the atmosphere for me, if you
will, before we go on to talk about why it is that you feel relatively optimistic at this point?
RICHARD HAYKEL, CHAIRMAN, HAYKEL HOSPITAL: Well, Becky, thank you for having me. The mood is very morose. You know, we're suffering from a
country that has a tumor. And what we see are the symptoms and the symptoms come from the tumor and the tumor is basically political dysfunction all
these political parties as you had in your reporting been reporting today that it's really sad.
There's a tragedy that was written here with an event that happened on the 4th of August. And that tragedy was a horrendous one.
HAYKEL: I mean, even - can't imagine such a tragedy in Greek mythology, however, that tragedy is just a sequence of events. We're seeing it every
day, and the tragedy is being written on a daily basis. And nobody's being held accountable by this judiciary for any of this.
I mean, it's truly a sad, sad chapter in our history, as I said earlier, and nobody's holding anybody accountable. They're trying to find how
somebody accountable for this explosion, this explosion was an event, that really sad event. But that's being repeated on a daily basis.
They're there - they have no remorse, they have no guilt they have no, I don't think they have any feelings to start with. I mean, the animals have
better feelings than these politicians do. And it's a truly sad, sad chapter. And I think the only way that to go forward is for the opposition
to create a leadership, which is also non-existent.
We have a lot of people in opposition. But there's no true leader that's been emerging in order to drive us out of this and we have elections coming
up next year. And the truly only way out is for us to have a non- confessional elections, and that is asking too much of the existing regime to do but what we have to do is we have to go down and vote and vote these
people out and vote people in that represent us and that look like us. You know, you saw today the Lebanese came out and said we're Lebanese. Sorry.
ANDERSON: No, I'm absolutely listening to what you are saying. And you did tweet earlier on, we shall rise again. And the point, from which you rise,
though, is a very, very low one. At this point please just explain to our viewers, if you will, just what you have witnessed and gone through over
this past year because I know the brain drain of doctors and nurses from the country is emblematic as it were, of just how bad things are?
HAYKEL: It's tremendous. We don't find medications; we don't find life- saving drugs. We don't find basic necessities to do basic services for healthcare. And you guys were talking about having the international
community help in the absence of the government, we'd love them to come to the private sector directly and help.
We need the international community to help but we don't need them to help the dysfunctional state in a dysfunctional political system. We need them
to come to the private sector; the Lebanese healthcare system is propped by 80 percent by the Lebanese health care - by the Lebanese private hospitals.
They should come directly in eliminate the chances of this money going into the pockets of different parties and different politicians. And make sure
that that money goes directly to treating the Lebanese people that are in dire need.
There are people that are dying from diabetes from repercussions of not taking their medications for high blood pressure that's not available, and
they don't even lose an hour of sleep. We don't spend any nights sleeping these days trying to see how we can find ways to help these patients.
And I mean dialysis, dialysis, if there are no more so called subsidies and theft of the People's depository banks, nobody will be able to for
dialysis. We have 5000 patients with a 5000 patients in Lebanon die, just because they're busy with the spoils of stealing whatever it is that they
can do for smuggling the drugs or smuggling the fuel or smuggling basic means.
I mean, we're talking about you know, turning on a motor to have a respirator where to treat a patient. And these are things that we struggle
daily. We have a hotline between the hospitals just to find enough fuel. There were two hospitals other day that ran out of fuel.
We ran to a building next door that had some fuel in and their heater and they were stocking it for winter time. And we had to empty them into jerry
cans and put them into the motors. And when you talk to the officials and the politicians, they're oblivious.
ANDERSON: Well, Richard, the world is listening to you today. We thank you for coming on. I know the end of that tweet today was seemingly quite
positive and I - we hope that things will improve and we will stick with you as a show in an organization to help provide some platform for your
voices. Thank you. We're going to take a very short break back after this.
ANDERSON: Showing you Lebanon struggled and the enormous challenges facing its people and already troubled nation pushed to the brink of catastrophe.
What's it really like to have lived through that day back in August?
Those of us and that would be most of us who weren't in Beirut last August 4th, cannot fully comprehend the impact of the port explosion and the
physical and emotional toll that it's taken on the people of Beirut.
So I want to close this out by giving you one survivors' story - in his story in his own words. This is Shady Rizk. He was standing by his office
window, taking pictures of smoke rising from the port when the big blast hit his life forever changed in an instant. The explosion left him with 350
stitches all over his body and face and partially impaired vision.
A year later, risk was wonders about justice. He says no politicians have been arrested, resigned or jailed. The truth of it all still unknown and
like so many in Lebanon he says he doesn't feel safe and he wants to leave the country. He hopes to move to Canada in the fall.
Well, in the meantime, he wonders if he will ever truly recover. He says and I quote I may physically heal but the internal scars are even worse.
And that is a common story, a story all too common in Lebanon. One year later he says every day is August 4th, every day. I'm Becky Anderson. That
was "Connect the World".